R111m businessman stole from Covid-19 UIF Ters will be forfeited to the state
The high court in Pretoria on Tuesday ordered that the R111m frozen in the bank accounts belonging to Thabo Abel Simbini be forfeited to the state.
The National Prosecuting Authority said the forfeiture order on Tuesday followed a successful preservation order obtained from the same court in November last year in terms of the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. The preservation order related to property believed to be the proceeds of fraud, theft and money laundering.
The NPA alleges that in October last year, Simbini, through his business Impossible Services (Pty) Ltd, made the devastating revelation that he had to lay off 6,647 employees because of the coronavirus.
As a result, he claimed — and was paid — R111m from the Unemployment Employment Fund's temporary employment relief scheme (Ters) set up to help individuals and businesses hardest hit by Covid-19.
It said R111m was fraudulently paid into Impossible Services' FNB bank account belonging to Simbini.
“After the funds were fraudulently paid into this account, Thabo Abel Simbini transferred the monies to several FNB accounts.”
The NPA said on November 13 last year, the Financial Intelligence Centre issued intervention notices to the various banking institutions to temporarily “freeze” the funds implicated in the actions of Impossible Services to assist law-enforcement agencies with their process of possible recovery.
“This resulted in AFU successfully obtaining the preservation order.”
The NPA said Simbini is charged with corruption after he tried to bribe the UIF official for the release of the stolen funds.
“He paid the UIF official a bribe of R10,000 and was arrested in a sting operation by members of the Hawks.”
The matter has been remanded to February 1 2022 in the Pretoria specialised commercial crimes court.
The NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit said it recognises that the UIF was a victim and therefore the recovered funds will be paid to it.
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